WWW Wednesday – February 13, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

if on a winter's night a travelerLast night I started reading If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino and honestly I’m not sure what to think of it yet. It’s not unenjoyable to read, but I was a little dizzied by how much the book disregards the fourth wall altogether. The first chapter spent the entire time talking about telling me to get ready and comfortable to read, before expounding upon the experience I might have had hearing that the new Calvino book was out, then my subsequent trip to the book store. The following chapter had a plot of a sort, but I’m not sure if I should take it as it was or if it will continue in any way going forward. I’m intrigued. I really don’t know what to expect from this novel.


Recently Finished

fire & bloodOver the weekend I finished reading Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin and posted a review yesterday. With all said and done, I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected I would. Some periods of this history were more enjoyable than others, but each was of an equal caliber of quality and compelled me onward. I was worried this book would take me much longer to finish, but I got it done well within a month’s time, with several days to spare, which I’m counting as a win for fiction that reads more like a history book. I highly recommend it for fans, it provides a great deal of insight into the notable figures, high and low, that populate the world of Westeros during these periods of their history.


Reading Next

The Rise and Fall of the DinosaursI’d really like a bit more of a change of pace from fiction next, so I think I will start The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, which I actually wanted to get to last year. I grew up fascinated by dinosaurs, which has fallen off in my adult life as far as checking out books about them goes. It’s high time I changed that. It’s among a number of science related nonfiction books I’ve been picking up and meaning to get to lately as well. I may read something else concurrently with it, but I haven’t made my mind up on that yet.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

Book Review – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

fire & blood

Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series, Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin is volume one of a history of House Targaryen’s reign over Westeros, including over 75 black-and-white illustrations by Dough Wheatley. Set about 300 years before the first novel, A Game of Thrones, it begins with Aegon I the Conqueror and concludes after the end of the Regency of Aegon III. This book is uniquely set apart from the main novel series because it is written as a historical text from that literary universe, rather than the narrative form fans of the series are accustomed to. As such we see this history through the lens of Archmaester Gyldayn, about whom we know little as a person, yet he serves as a passive in-universe perspective who offers academic commentary and brief tangents when appropriate.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – February 6, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

fire & bloodI’m just over 500 pages into Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin, so I should be wrapping up with it soon. That’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying myself with this book, however. As I’ve continually reported, this book is really good, it’s more unfortunate that everyone’s desire for the next proper sequel is overshadowing it to some extent. It’s funny how history passes you by so swiftly while reading this book, and it’s surprisingly poignant too. You can be reading about a certain king’s prosperous reign, with all the new laws and infrastructure they build along the way, and the trials they face as people, only to move on to others who have a much more tumultuous time, ravaging the kingdom in the process. All those figures you got invested in before just become history again, albeit fictional.


Recently Finished

berserk 19The only book I finished last week was Berserk Vol. 19 by Kentaro Miura, which I was lucky enough to have a coupon code to pick up inexpensively, since manga reads unfortunately quickly. Now I’ve got to wait until I can justify buying the next volume and it’s a real drag. I’ve been left at quite a prominent cliffhanger, with a confluence of forces coming together to make the inquisition and refugee crisis in the story really boil over. A certain character has had her mental faculties diminished for some time in the story, and while I have enjoyed the straightforward factors at play creating more complicated conflict thanks to human nature, I’m ready for her to be a character again. This is unfortunate, because by all accounts that apparently doesn’t even start to happen for a while.


Reading Next

if on a winter's night a travelerI still intend to start If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino when I’m ready to move on, it’s still just a matter of getting Fire & Blood finished up. I’m afraid I’m in a bit of an indecisive period again with what comic books I want to read next, however. I’m torn between whether I should continue things I’m in the middle of or start a new series and even then cannot choose which from either category. I’m sure I’ll have something finished by next week all the same, just can’t say what right now.

Until then, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 30, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

fire & bloodDang it Martin has done it again. I’m still in the middle of Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin, but I’ve turned around a lot on my feelings toward it. Sure, I want Winds of Winter a lot more than this book, but even as a fictional history book he continues to be an excellent storyteller. The laundry list of names does get to be a bit much at times, but the most important characters really stick out. It may not be as intimate as a standard novel, but you really do get to know a lot about these important figures in the history of Westeros. The reign of Jaehaerys Targaryen has been especially interesting with all he has accomplished, as well as the tragedies that have befallen his family along the way. One incident was a horror show that glued my eyes to the book.


Recently Finished

Age of Reptiles Omnibus 1I finished Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado et al over the weekend, which I posted a review of yesterday. I loved this book and I wish physical editions weren’t so hard to find. The art and visual storytelling are simply wonderful and I wish I had a physical copy to keep and appreciate. Before this weekend I’d only read one third of the stories contained within this omnibus, and the latter offered some nice variance in storytelling without abandoning the idea that this is more nature than narrative. I’m surprised at how invested I got in the drama that unfolded. There’s another, newer book out, though not an omnibus, that is for some reason seemingly just as hard to find. I’ll likely pick that up digitally as soon as I can.

berserk 18I also read through Berserk Vol. 18 by Kentaro Miura. The main character Guts was not as heavily featured in this volume, but we got a much greater look at the refugee crisis convening at the Tower of Conviction, the brutal methods of the Church, and the very real heretical presence hiding in their midst. This series has a parental advisory on it generally, but this volume really pushed the limits with horrific two-page spreads of human torture, as well as heretical revelry including a grotesquely massive orgy and cannibalism. The whole situation feels like a powder keg about to go off and I really cannot wait to pick up the next volume to see what happens next.


Reading Next

berserk 19Nearly all my reading time is going to be dedicated to Fire & Blood for the near future so that I can hopefully have it done for early February. I don’t want to be spending too much time on this book, but I’m still not half way yet, so we’ll see. However, I will continue to read comic books and I have the next volume of Berserk on the way, so I’ll certainly have that read soon after I get my hands on it.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 23, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

fire & bloodI’m a little over 100 pages into Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin now and it is starting to grow on me a bit. I still would have preferred it be a novel, but a fictional history is not terrible since the world of Westeros is quite compelling even in this context. The only drag I’m having with it is it takes a lot longer to make a dent in reading it. When I would have gotten through a lot more pages with another book I find I get through only a miniscule amount reading this. It is broken up into manageable chaptrs that do make it more digestible though, which I’m hoping will help me make more progress as I dedicate time more closely to it.

I’m still reading the Age of Reptiles Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado et al as well, but I regrettably haven’t touched it since my post last week. I’ll get back to it soon.


Recently Finished

star wars aliensOver the weekend I finished reading Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker, which I should have a review up for by the end of the week. This was a fun little Star Wars collection that I’m glad I set aside time for. The stories were a lot more straightforward due to the younger target audience, but this didn’t stop Walker from getting a little weird with each story and I enjoyed that. I especially liked the finale story, which was essentially a Mad Max-style race through a sandstorm between a bunch of different pirate factions trying to find the lost treasure of Count Dooku. This tale ended up tying itself more closely with greater franchise lore too, which I really enjoyed.


Reading Next

if on a winter's night a travelerShucks, I don’t now what I’ll be reading next. Fire & Blood is going to consume a lot of my reading time if I’m going to get it done sooner rather than later. With how heavy the snow has been here, however, I have been thinking more and more about finally reading If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. I don’t know much about it other than that it plays with framing narrative and story structure in interesting, if disorienting, ways. Apparently it’s actually ten novels in one, though it’s not long in terms of page count, so I’m curious to see how that unfolds.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 16, 2019

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Age of Reptiles Omnibus 1I’ve taken it upon myself to read more books concurrently than is normal for me at the moment. The first, and lightest, of these is the Age of Reptiles Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado et al. It is an omnibus collection of stories about dinosaurs told completely visually. No word bubbles, narrative boxes, or even text sound effects grace the pages whatsoever. It is all completely visual storytelling and so far I think it’s done very well. The style is very evocative, perhaps giving these colossal creatures more expression than they were capable of, but it’s artistic license I can more than accept. The only place I’ve stumbled with it so far is that some packs of dinosaurs, with members who are at times distinct, can also be hard to tell apart.

star wars aliensI also started Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker. It is a collection of short stories written for younger audiences about some of the aliens that appear as background characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wanted to start this as a supplemental read to my primary book, and so far I am finding it a fair breeze to get through. While the writing definitely reads easier, I’m surprised at some of the content considering the intended audience. The second story involved a sous chef being found butchered and strung up in a meat locker. I enjoyed it fine, but that’s a bit dark for a “kids” book isn’t it?

fire & bloodLastly, I decided to start Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin, the latest book published related to the Song of Ice and Fire series. I forgot to put this on my scrappy list for the year, but since I’ve made better progress than I thought I would I decided to take the plunge with it now. I knew it was an account of the past in this narrative world, but I did not know that it was written like an in-universe historical text. This had made the prose a lot more dry than I was expecting. Martin’s writing is still strong, but I was hoping for more of a narrative. I really hope another big red book doesn’t slow down my reading progress this year. 2019’s only just started!


Recently Finished

lost at seaOver the weekend I finished two books, the first being Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Despite being a fan of the author/artist’s work for a long time, I’ve never gotten around to this one, his first ever graphic novel. The blurb says the main character Raleigh believes she has no soul—that it was stolen by a cat—it’s a much more grounded story than this suggests, intimately exploring the character’s state of mind as she takes part in a road trip from California to British Columbia. She’s at a turning point in her life, confused and with no sense of direction. I loved the way that O’Malley captured this in his quirky style without diminishing the weight of her emotional situation.

The Saturday Night Ghost ClubI also finished The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson, which I posted a review of yesterday. I enjoyed this novel a lot, though it was much more of a coming-of-age story than I expected going in. The mystery around Uncle Calvin became too predictable for me, but it was still effective in the end. I simply loved the characters in this novel; Davidson crafted them into such living, breathing people that the familiar formulas at play hardly mattered. I especially found that I could relate to the main character, finding a lot in common with myself when I was that age. I think this has become my favourite of his novels that I’ve read.


Reading Next

With as many books as I’ve got on my plate at the moment I really don’t know what’s next, except I definitely want to veer back onto my scrappy list so I can continue getting it done. I started strong getting two books crossed off, but now I’ve picked up two deviations from the plan, so more fool me.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

Book Review – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms By George R.R. Martin

KnightCover

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin, published in 2015, collects the first three prequel novellas to the popular A Song of Ice and Fire series. The stories collected are The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003), and The Mystery Knight (2010). Set nearly a century before A Game of Thrones, each story follows the young hedge knight Dunk, also known as Ser Duncan the Tall, and his squire Egg as they adventure across Westeros during a time when the Targaryen family still holds the Iron Throne.Read More »

Top Five Books I Read in 2014

With the year coming to a close I thought I would provide a list of my top five favourite books I read this year. I will briefly run down my feelings on each and what they are about as best I can. To clarify, these are not books that came out in 2014, simply books that I read throughout the year, listed in no particular order.

Barrett Fuller’s Secret

Author: Scott Carter

Genre: Fiction

For disclosure purposes, Barrett Fuller’s Secret is a novel written by my uncle. Regardless of this, I found the book to be a great read.

The titular character Barrett Fuller — a wildly successful children’s author who uses his success to fuel a life of debauchery and excess — receives an extortion letter forcing him to reform his ways and behave more like his virtuous pseudonym, or risk having his secret life exposed. His story is told alongside that of his nephew, Richard Fuller, who also has a secret that shakes him to the core. As their stories intersect, their respective secrets start down a collision course that will change their lives forever.

In the best way, I found the novel to be a very quick read. The characters were interesting and I found myself siding with Barrett in spite of himself, which made the conflict all the more interesting to me. The way everything ends caught me off guard as well, which I appreciated because while I didn’t see it coming, the twist made perfect sense in the context of the story.

American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fantasy

The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythical beings exist through the power of human belief, and in modern times their power and influence has waned due to people’s reduced faith. Diminished gods that were brought over by immigrants reside in America, alongside new modern gods of media, technology, drugs, and other concepts. Shadow Moon, a recent ex-con who suffers the loss of his wife and best friend just before release, is hired by conman Mr. Wednesday to be his body guard. This propels him into the world of gods in America and their struggles exist.

While I was already a big fan of Gaiman from the Sandman series, this novel helped to solidify his status as my most favourite author. Despite the page count, it didn’t feel its length and kept me eagerly coming back for more. Though its core concept is right up my alley, I found the world and its characters to be both beautiful and dreary as well, capturing a sense of wonder and desperation at the same time.

Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

Genre: Multi-Genre Fiction

Following one soul as it is reborn across time and space, Cloud Atlas is a novel that blends genre throughout, using many small stories that recur and intersect with one another. They are seemingly separate, but come together in small and profound ways, unifying them beautifully as a whole.

Admittedly, I read this book because of my love for the film, and it did not disappoint. While I did not find it quite as impactful as the movie did, it felt better thought-out and realistic. The movie could be a little hand-holdy to me at times, whereas the book made you work a little harder to realize the connections, which I appreciated. Though more complex than other novels, I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a less conventional narrative.

A Dance with Dragons

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Continuing the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons is the fifth and most recent book, taking place in the world of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. Martin’s style of writing makes the novel difficult to summarize, as it is a world that follows numerous character narratives and tells its story continually with each new book. For those who know the series, it tells the story of characters absent from the previous book before continuing to drive the narrative forward.

While I have heard mixed feedback regarding the book, I found it to be a worthy and compelling addition to the series, leaving me eager for the next book to be released. The book introduced elements that make me worry about the story being able to wrap-up with supposedly only two books remaining, and certain characters I was a lot less interested reading about than others, but these criticisms are ultimately minor to me in the grand scheme of the book. The series continues to compel me, and I recommend it to any fan of more grounded fantasy.

A Short History of Myth

Author: Karen Armstrong

Genre: Mythology

Easily the most “written on the tin” of all the books I read, A Short History of Myth is simply that. A part of Canongate Myth series, which are short novels written by modern authors re-imagining old myths, Armstrong’s book simply talks about the history of myth as it relates to human development.

While I would be interested in a book that covers the subject matter more in depth (such as Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God series), I found the book to be a great entry-level glimpse into the history of myths for humanity. It helped me to consider mythology in a different way, introducing concepts about earlier forms of human civilization and what stories would mean to them in context in a way that I hadn’t before.

While this book may be a more humble entry than the others on my list, I enjoyed it greatly nonetheless, and am eager to read more from the Canongate series.

That concludes my list for this year. I hope you enjoyed it.

Happy New Year, everyone!